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“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, December 6, 2010

As I See It: Top Ten Reasons to Publish with a Small Press

10. Most accept unagented submissions, which cuts down the time element on submissions. Important for those like me who see time running out like the sands in an hourglass and hey I know that's a cliched phrase from a soap opera but it fits here!

9.  Direct relationship between writer and editor with no layers in between.

8.  You have a small but experienced support team-- editors, designers and marketers to guide you toward publication.

7. My publishing contract is only two pages, simple enough to figure out on my own.

6. Creative control, not feeling like you're at the mercy or whim of big business.

5. Willing to work with inexperienced and debut writers, giving voice to those who might not have a chance otherwise.

4. Time is cut from submission to release since there's not a zillion other titles ahead of you.

3. They are committed, dedicated and passionate about their work, doing it for love not money, and it's exciting to be part of that. 

2. It's still traditional publishing, only on a smaller scale and without an agent.

1. The personal feeling that you're working with real people who care about your book as much as you do.


Several of the arguments against the small press are becoming obsolete. Like-- they don't have the clout to get you into major bookstores. Well, if fewer and fewer people are even walking into bookstores to browse and discover the unknown novelist, what difference does it make?

And like-- the big publishers have the big marketing dollars. Don't get excited about that, it's reserved for celebrities with their tell-all books and proven best-selling authors.

And this one-- you need an agent to maneuver you through the contract. Maybe so, but...*see #7 above*

Or-- you don't have to market yourself with the big publishers. hahahahahahahahahahahaha

So clearly I'm a big fan of the small press. Not that everyone has to agree with me, of course, because this is how I see it not how you have to see it. Plus there are many paths that lead to publication. Good thing or we'd all be crowding on the same one and people could get hurt.

54 comments:

  1. And I'd expect w/the rise of ebooks/ereaders, the notion that you "need" a big publisher to do well will grow even weaker. Good stuff here, Karen! :o) <3

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  2. Yeah! I heart my small press publisher, Omnific. Thanks for validating that choice even more so!

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  3. ha ha nice one KarenG. Imagine how i felt when I heard Snooki was getting a book deal or something to that effect - waste of money i tell you.
    I just hope i end up with the perfect publishing House

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  4. Thanks for the interesting post. I'm glad for you that the small press experience has been so positive. How has your experience been of working with an editor directly? Were there times you wished you had an agent to advocate for you?

    On a separate note, I know I have to get over this but *sigh* I love bookstores. Forget Disneyland, bookstores are the happiest place on earth.

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  5. The thing is, once you accept that argument, Karen, you could well work on to Do I need a publisher at all? Why not do it myself, and keep total control and all the profit?

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  6. It's good to hear your opinion. I think there is a place for both big and small publishers. Its so sad that the small press is disappearing. Hopefully things will improve.

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  7. Carolyn V., A lot of small publishers are out of business but many more are stepping in. I actually see the small presses being more important than ever during these changing times. *for all the above reasons*

    Lexi, Personally, I need that support group. I'm not good without an editor, and I don't want to hire one, I'd rather have one assigned to me! But I certainly see the advantages of going indie, and think it's awesome when it works for authors like you, Stephen Tremp and Mary McDonald. I am cheering the indies along all the way.

    That said, I tried to read a self-pubbed book yesterday that was so full of punctuation & POV errors that I couldn't get through it. I felt sad for this author because the *writing* was excellent and just needed a strong editor to be a really good book.

    Madame Paradox, Give me a good bookstore any day over Disneyland. Give me the beach over Disneland, but that's another issue. I've never felt the loss of an agent, I love dealing with editors directly. I feel like our communication works better this way. But then I'm talking *small* not *big* publisher, which may be a lot different.

    Plus never having had an agent, my viewpoint is somewhat skewed.

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  8. I see the beauty of it every day now. I'll never be a conventional writer and should never have expected a conventional road to getting published. For me, a small press looks like a sweet way to go. I've been converted!

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  9. I'm sold. One question though, how does one approach a small press without an agent?

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  10. You are talking about a niche market. What happens if you don't fit that niche?

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  11. Rosaria, Best way is to study their submission guidelines to find the fit for you. And they'll also say if they take unagented submissions. There are so many out there, you should be able to find your niche.

    Amy, You'll get published one way or the other. You're too good not to be.

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  12. I think you effectively shot down the arguements against, Karen!

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  13. Can I be your back-up singer on this one?

    I haven't ever been published by a huge house, but I can say that my experience with Lerner (which might be medium-sized) was fantastic. I had the pleasure of working with an editor who really made my book better.

    Re agents: I sold my first book myself. I had an agent for the second book. He is an *excellent* agent, but I found out that having an agent made me anxious and distracted me from why I wanted to write in the first place. So I'm in the process of dissolving that relationship. I know that many writers enjoy having an agent. I may even wish I had an agent again someday, but right now, for me, it isn't right.

    On the other hand, I would *never* want to be published without an editor.

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  14. Great post Karen. I'm more and more coming round to the idea of trying to publish with a small press myself. I, for one, just don't seem to be getting very far with the "conventional" route. Thanks!

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  15. This is a very encouraging post. When it's time for me to actually submit something to someone, I'll keep this in mind.

    Thanks!

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  16. Another point in favor of small publishers is that while you get a smaller advance (if any) you earn out faster!

    That's huge if you want to get a second book published :)

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  17. It's brilliant that there are so many avenues for writers to have their work accepted and published!!! I would like to think that the big publishing house now started small and independent too! take care
    x

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  18. Those are strong reasons for going with a smaller publisher!

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  19. Good post Karen! A lot of writers think small publishers are inexperienced and can't compete with the "big" ones, and that simply isn't true. There are a lot of small, independent publishers out there that are great for the reasons you've listed.

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  20. Great post Karen. It's good to know that there are so many paths to the goal. Now if I could just get on one and stay there...

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  21. Those are really good points. I think the small presses give a lot more reading variety than we might otherwise get!

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  22. Really good points, Karen.

    We have to look at all the options, including small press, as a way of getting our work out there.

    Jai

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  23. Thank you for the upbeat post! It helps me feel better about the entire process. It's so difficult to break in at all- at least that's what I keep reading and hearing. Now I feel more encouraged! :)

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  24. Good point on all matters. J.K. Rowling went to a small press with Harry Potter and look at her now. Hope springs eternal, another great cliche.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  25. Nancy, You get the grand prize for that comment :) I had forgotten about JK Rowling. And Harry Potter's first press run was 100 copies. *wish I had one of those now*

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  26. If I ever finish my WiP, I'm going to send queries to several small presses. I'm making a list :)

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  27. Excellent thoughts. Think about this too--how many readers even know where the book they order or pluck off the shelf is published?? I do being in the bookstore industry but never ever did before that!

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  28. I agree with you, I think the small presses are becoming giants in their own right.

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  29. Wow, these are great reasons! Perhaps I should? ;)

    CD

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  30. Great post. I go to bookstores at every opportunity, I love to browse and often have no idea of what it is I am going to purchase until I see it. I'll walk up and down the isles and thumb through bestsellers, non fiction, genre stuff. I'll read the book jackets and check out the covers. It's an experience that I absolutely adore.

    On the flip side of that, I only purchase online if I already know I want it.

    I think the experiences of online purchasing and in-store purchasing are entirely different. I do them for different reasons and only purchase online if I'm feeling lazy or have no other options.

    I hate that I can't hang onto my e-books and only buy them begrudgingly.

    If the future of publishing forces me online to buy then I'm going to be miserable. Browsing just isn't the same. In the same way, if indie publishers don't actively try to get books in stores I think it makes it tougher to capture folks that love doing what I do when I go out to see what's out there.

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  31. Karen, you've just made my night:)

    Every point you've made mimics my experience with my indie-pub thus far. My contract was four pages, I'm in constant contact with my editor, conversations are dealt on a personal level, and despite my "selling" them the story, they continue to ask for my input.

    The overall process takes a bit longer until the book hits the shelves, but when it gets there, it'll have my imprint on it, something I was originally concerned with.
    Well done, Karen!
    EL

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  32. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, I have to say that it makes the idea so much more appealing to me than the traditional route ever was...

    hugs
    bru

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  33. Great points to take into consideration.. thank you!

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  34. Interesting. I think it's like any other small-scale thing...a little more personal.

    Great post!

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  35. Just to clarify my point about bookstores-- small publishers CAN and DO get their titles into bookstores but again it's on a smaller scale. Farm Girl is available at many independent, local bookstores in the Great Plains States, but not Barnes and Noble. The large chains take books from the large publishers who have large distributors. My publisher has a distributor but not one with the chops to get books front and center at B & N, which is ok with me as well, because of their returns issues. So I'm not advocating that a small press CANNOT get books into bookstores. I must say however that it's more and more difficult as the indie booksellers are getting very cautious with what they buy, many are shutting down, and many no longer want to take on unknown authors.

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  36. I think for a lot of books, smaller presses are a GREAT option. I think many genres have smaller publishers who do really GREAT. I have a question about the no agent thing... did you hire a lawyer to look at your contract and make sure things were good? To me, that is one of the biggies for an agent--I am clueless on the legal stuff and don't want to get taken for a ride.

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  37. I think small press makes a great deal of sense. In my mind it fits right smack in the middle of large press and self-publishing, and is likely a very happy medium for many authors.

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  38. I can see why this would be the way to go! I like the sand in the hour glass simile~
    Great post!

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  39. Hear hear! Karen, I couldn't agree more. I've had nothing but positive experiences with my small press!

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  40. Hi Karen .. it sounds like the ideal way of going .. and I guess they'll be more with it - i.e. have learnt the ins and outs of social media etc .. and be prepared to take more risks with you & trial things .. and you doing the same .. makes sense .. as Talli says above. Thanks .. still love the giraffes!! Hilary

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  41. I have a big publisher, and I'm extremely happy there. Would I be happy at a small publisher too? I have no doubt. What I tell people: You have to decide what you want. And then work for that. There is no "better." There's what YOU want. So I concur with your last statement, that we all have a different journey toward publication, and hopefully we're all on the path we want to be on.

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  42. Fantastic post - you make some interesting points.

    XX

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  43. Thanks Suzanne, and I love your last name. You're a Jones girl same as me!

    Elana, I just wanted to make the point that there's a lot to value and benefit from going with a small press-- that there's no need to feel one has 'settled' or 'compromised' if they go this route rather than with the agent/big publisher. I mean really in a perfect world, most of us would love the clout that might give us-- the backing, the advance, the professional agent going to bat for us-- but clearly not everyone will try for it let alone achieve it. Neither of my books EVER would have been picked up by an agent. WiDo's distributor didn't even want to take on Farm Girl, yet it has ended up being WiDo's best selling title so far.

    Hilary, I love when you visit my blog and bring your South Africa cheering section!

    Talli, And I bet not too many people even realize you're with a small press because you have such a large presence on social media.

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  44. I would easily publish with a small press. There are sooo many opportunities for writers. I think it's an awesome time for writers.

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  45. I can see how a two page contract would be advantageous. And retaining creative control is vital. Who wants someone coming in and tearing you MS apart all in the name of editing?

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  46. I've been thinking about this myself. When I have the time again to research and send my query out, I think I'd rather a small press. I'm a former small business owner, and like the concept. Not to mention all the reasons you give above.

    And as soon as I get my Kindle I'm buying UNCUT DIAMONDS. I've been intrigued by the blurb for a long time.

    ........dhole

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  47. Could't agree with you more on small presses. They also publish more interesting books and can take more risks than larger publishers who always have to fit every book they buy into a cookie cutter mold.

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  48. Omigosh, Karen, you always make me laugh :) I think small presses are doing an amazing job. A lot of my friends have had great success with small presses and I think that trend is going to continue. It's a huge benefit for authors AND for readers.

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  49. YES! Times 10. And given that I know people published with big publishers that STILL don't have their books in the bookstore (really??? yes, really), the small presses look more and more awesome every day. With the big publishers turning away even established authors, the small publishers are filling in the gaps left behind.

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  50. Great post. There are so many options right now involving publishing that empower writers. I remember years ago (more like two decades ago when I started querying) writers kept stressing "gatekeepers", i.e. large houses and rejecting agents. Now there are more avenues to take.

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  51. Found this via Twitter. Good post!

    I edit a small popular fiction imprint (Embrace Books) of a medium-sized literary publishing house and am constantly frustrated by those who view smaller publishers with suspicion - or worse, say we don't count because we only have a small budget for promotion.

    We provide a friendly, highly personal service to writers, and edit and produce their books with great attention to detail. It's great to find people who appreciate what we offer and see how the marketplace is changing and levelling out the field between small and large publishers.

    Thanks!

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  52. I love how you wrapped this up, Karen, "Plus there are many paths that lead to publication. Good thing or we'd all be crowding on the same one and people could get hurt." It's a good point. What works for some, may not work for others and we all benefit from the variety of routes to publishing.

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